NBA - Gordon's GB debut delayed again

Tue, 13 Jul 15:27:00 2010

NBA star Ben Gordon's long-awaited British basketball debut will have to wait again - after he withdrew from involvement in this summer's crucial EuroBasket qualifying campaign.

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London-born Gordon's decision to make himself eligible for the Great Britain team ahead of the London 2012 Olympics was much heralded - even though he appeared for the USA at the 2003 PanAm Games and moved to America before his first birthday.

He withdrew from last summer's EuroBasket squad to focus on preparing to get fit for the new NBA season, following a $55 million big-money move to the Detroit Pistons from Chicago.

But he insisted he would be available for this summer's qualifying games against Macedonia, Ukraine, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, the 27-year old guard is struggling with ankle issues that undermined his debut year with the Pistons.

"I am really disappointed that my injury will not be fully healed in time for me to join the team," he said.

"The British medical staff and management have been in touch with the Pistons over the past few weeks. Every effort has been made - unfortunately, I just won't be ready to play come August.

"I am really looking forward to playing next year and will follow the team's success this summer."

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, who also missed last year's EuroBasket through injury, will return to the international team for a series of matches that will be crucial to British hopes of qualifying for the next Olympics.

The hosts' place at London 2012 is yet to be rubber-stamped but reaching the EuroBasket finals next year is the minimum standard required to earn a prized invitation from Fiba, basketball's world governing body.

However, head coach Chris Finch will also be without the influential Joel Freeland - who picked up a injury with club side Unicaja Malaga in the post-season of the Spanish League.

"This is undoubtedly a blow to the team as they would have both been key players in what is going to be a challenging summer with four EuroBasket qualifying games home and away," said Finch.

"However, it will be a great opportunity for some of the younger players to step up to the mark and stake a claim for a regular place.

"Players like Justin Robinson, Matthew Bryan Amaning and Ashley Hamilton all performed well for the GB Futures, so we should be positive about what the younger players can offer."


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